“Hi, this is Garrett calling in for the Aconcagua team today is December 18th, Sunday. We are up at high camp on Aconcagua and tonight is our big night. We are going to leave for the summit early tomorrow morning probably around 5AM. And hope to be on top of Aconcagua the highest peak in the Andes midday or early afternoon. Looks like the forecasts are nice weather tomorrow not to much wind not to much snow so with a little bit of luck we will on top of the mountain and back down to high camp tomorrow evening. We will check in soon, thanks so much.”
Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison
“Hi this is Garrett calling in for the Aconcagua expedition, today is Saturday December 17th. Today we did a carry from our Camp 2 up to Camp 3 on Aconcagua. We then returned down to Camp 2 to spend the night. Our plan tomorrow is to move up to Camp 3 and hopefully go for the summit on the next day, the 19th. Everyone is doing well here, had some good weather and a little wind, sunny and warm. We are enjoying the views of the Andes and eating a few good meals. All is well and we will check in tomorrow when we get up to high camp. Fingers crossed for good weather.”
Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison
Yesterday our Aconcagua climbing team successfully completed a carry to Camp 2. After moving equipment and provisions higher up the mountain they returned to Camp 1 for the night. Target summit date of the Stone Sentinel is December 19. The team is in good condition and excited to climb higher!
After a few relaxing days in Aconcagua base camp and a carry to camp 1 yesterday we are now heading up today to begin our summit ascent. We plan to climb to camp 1 and sleep there tonight and then carry a load tomorrow to camp 2. The following day we plan to move to camp 2 and then evaluate the weather forecast. If all looks good we will carry a load to camp 3, then climb to camp 3 and sleep, going for the summit the following day on December 19th.
Yesterday we arrived at Plaza Argentina base camp after a nice 3-day trek up the Vacas and Horcones valleys. We received perfect weather on our trek and enjoyed barbecues over the open campfire under starry skies. On our last day of the trek we had a couple of river crossings and noticed that the rivers were a little higher than previous seasons because of the large amount of snow on the mountain, this should make for good route conditions higher up on the mountain. Our plan now is to rest and relax for one day to organize our equipment for the higher camps and the day after begin our first load carry to Camp 1. Everyone is doing great and we are hoping this nice weather will hold for us!
“We have enjoyed a couple of nice evenings in Mendoza and Penitentes, savoring the fine Argentine cuisine and gearing up for our climb. We are very excited to begin our trek to Aconcagua base camp today. The trek to base camp is about 36 miles, and we plan to cover this distance over 3 days. Recently there has been significant snowfall in base camp, so we are preparing for ‘adverse’ conditions when we arrive, but we hope that the typical hot & sunny weather this time of year will return soon. Our team members Randy, Peter, Erik, Tom, and guides Javier and myself are all looking forward to getting started on the trail and making our way to the mountain. It’s great to be back here in Argentina and climbing the highest peak outside of Asia, also the highest in the western and southern hemisphere.”
The Madison Mountaineering climbing team will soon be arriving in Mendoza, Argentina to begin our December expedition of the highest mountain in the western and southern hemispheres. Aconcagua stands at an impressive 6,962m (22,834 ft.) above sea level and is great training for high altitude peaks in the Himalaya. Please follow our dispatches as we journey from the lush wine region of Mendoza (known for grass fed beef and Malbec) to the arid slopes of the Vacas Valley and up to the base of the Polish Glacier, before making our way to the highest point in the Andes. Aconcagua is known at times for high winds (100mph) and sub zero temps, as well as the high altitude extreme environment. This mountain is never an easy feat and over half the climbers who attempt are turned back.
The mountain and its surroundings are part of the Aconcagua Provincial Park. The mountain has a number of glaciers. The largest glacier is the Ventisquero Horcones Inferior at about 10 km long, which descends from the south face to about 3,600 m altitude near the Confluencia camp. Our climbers will begin on the eastern side of the mountain, by trekking along the Vacas River to Plaza Argentina base camp. From here we ascend the non technical false polish and then upper Guanacos route to our high camp.
Sid Pattison and Garrett Madison preparing to climb around the world this month!
Aconcagua, the “Stone Sentinel”, is located in Argentina near the border of Chile, and is the highest mountain outside of Asia. We climb a less traveled route that allows for more acclimatization, and while we may use our ice axe and crampons occasionally, this climb does not require ‘roping up.’ Climbers have the option to hire porters to assist with load carrying, as Aconcagua can be a very demanding high altitude climb.
Madison Mountaineering offers the highest standard in climbing Aconcagua by combining expert guides, a well thought out strategy, and excellent support throughout the expedition. Our guides are very experienced leading expeditions on Aconcagua, and spend days before hand organizing the food and equipment for the climb. Although we do not rope up, Aconcagua is a very serious undertaking. Our approach is to properly acclimatize and then attempt the summit with enough extra days built in for bad weather, whereas many climbers try to rush the ascent and are turned around by altitude illness or high winds that prevent reaching the summit when time is limited. We have a very close relationship and daily communication with our Argentine outfitter who provides services such as the mules that transport our gear to base camp, our own private dining tent in base camp, and the porters who are available to assist us transporting gear to our high camps. We keep our teams small, and ensure that climbers have the best chance to reach the summit while remaining safe. Garrett Madison has reached the summit of Aconcagua on nearly each of his 11 expeditions, and has perfected what he believes is the optimum strategy for leading a team to reach the summit.
We begin on the eastern side of the mountain, by trekking along the Vacas River to Plaza Argentina base camp. From here we ascend the non technical false polish and then upper Guanacos route to our high camp. On summit day we climb to Independencia refuge, then traverse the western slope, ascend the Canaleta, and reach the summit ridge leading to the highest point in the Americas. We descend into the Horcones valley and exit out of the western side of Aconcagua, nearly circumnavigating the entire peak.
Prerequisites: Climbers should have trekking or back packing experience. Technical training in how to use ice axe and crampons is a plus, but not necessary as we will review these skills once on the mountain. Top physical conditioning is important as this is a strenuous climb at high altitude.
Photo Credit: Wenny Sánchez
We regularly organize custom programs for private groups. We are happy to accommodate your program dates, as well as other specific requests related to the itinerary, amenities, and group size. Please contact us if you would like to know more about custom programs.
Day 1: Arrive in Mendoza, transfer to Park Hyatt Hotel. Your guide will meet with you and conduct an orientation, equipment check, then gather the group for a welcome dinner in a nearby restaurant.
Day 2: After breakfast we visit the Aconcagua Park office and obtain our climbing permits, then drive to Penitentes, usually having lunch along the way. Upon arriving the Ayelen hotel we discuss the strategy for the climb before relaxing and enjoying another Argentine style dinner.
Day 3: We begin our trek not far from the hotel at Punta de Vaca, the entrance to the Vacas Valley (8,000’) and trek along the river stopping to enjoy a picnic style lunch. We arrive at Pampa de Lena camp (9,200’). Here we have a traditional open fire barbeque under the stars near the riverside.
Day 4: We awake early and continue the trek, marveling at the scenic landscape of the far away valley walls. After another picnic style lunch we finally have our first view of the summit, then arrive Casa de Piedra Camp (10,560’), another scenic riverside camp.
Day 5: After an early morning river crossing (with river shoes or by mule) we leave the Vacas Valley and begin the steep trek up the Relinchos Valley to Plaza Argentina base camp (13,900’). Upon arriving in base camp we are greeted by our friendly outfitter and a warm meal! The mules will deposit our gear and head out. We spend the first of our 3 nights at base camp.
Day 6: We rest in base camp and organize our loads for the higher camps. A short acclimatization hike up a nearby peak is optional.
Day 7: After breakfast we carry a load of equipment up to Camp 1 (16,100’) to deposit and then we return to base camp to spend the night.
Day 8: After breakfast we say good bye to our Argentine friends at base camp and climb up to Camp 1 (16,100’) to spend the night.
Day 9: We carry a load of gear, food, and clothing to our Camp 2 (18,000’), then return to Camp 1 to spend the night.
Day 10: Today we normally rest in Camp 1 to recover from the previous day’s climb and allow our bodies to generate more red blood cells.
Day 11: Move to Camp 2 (18,000’). From here we can see many snow capped peaks of the Andes.
Day 12: Rest in Camp 2, organize loads for carry to Camp 3.
Day 13: Carry to Camp 3 (19,600’) and return to Camp 2 to spend the night.
Day 14: Move to Camp 3 (19,600’). Upon reaching high camp we enjoy spectacular sunsets to the west over Chile.
Day 15: Rest in Camp 3.
Day 16: Summit day! We awake early and set off for the summit, usually arriving at the top around 2 PM. We savor the view from the highest peak in the Americas, then descend back to our high camp and spend the night.
Day 17: Extra day in case of bad weather, acclimatization, etc.
Day 18: Descend from our Camp 3 to Plaza de Mulas base camp (13,800’).
Day 19: Trek to Horcones trail head, transfer to the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes. Here we have a much deserved shower and celebration dinner!
Day 20: Transfer to Mendoza, check into park Hyatt hotel, and enjoy a fancy Argentine style meal. If we do not use our extra days we can relax in Mendoza or choose a day activity such as a wine tour, rafting trip, horseback ride, fly fishing, etc.
Day 21: Transfer to Mendoza airport, depart for country of residence.
February 7-March 1
December 12-January 3
December 19-January 10
December 28-January 19
• Mountain guides
• All shared expedition gear (VHF radios, satellite phone, personal tents, large private dining tent in base camp, cooking equipment, etc.)
• Airport pick up upon arrival and transport to hotel
• Two nights accommodations with breakfast in Mendoza (double occupancy)
• Two nights accommodation with breakfast at the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes
• Welcome dinner
• Celebration dinner
• All food during the expedition
• All ground transport during the program
• Mules to transport gear and food
Costs Do Not Include:
• Airfare to Mendoza
• Aconcagua climbing permit fee
• Option to upgrade to single room
• Argentina reciprocity fee
• Porter fees
• Fees for early departure from program
• Personal items
• Medical and Evacuation insurance
• Trip cancellation insurance
• Wire transfer fees
• There are no refunds for the deposit or balance payments for this expedition. This includes but is not limited to, expeditions that conclude without a summit or progress towards a summit for participants due to route conditions, weather, insufficient manpower, or any other factor outside the control of Madison Mountaineering. Expedition leader has the final say on the expedition conclusion and will make all best efforts within our margin of safety.
• Participants that choose to leave an active expedition for any reason are not entitled to any refunds
• Madison Mountaineering, LLC highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions
• Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Madison Mountaineering must adhere to a stringent refund policy
• Deposit due with registration materials
• All balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified
• Participants whose balances are not received by the 120-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their funds and their place on the expedition
Note: Madison Mountaineering, LLC reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible. Deposits paid by participants acknowledge the above cancellation terms.
Print Gear List
Additional Food Items
Other Optional Items
Madison Mountaineering is recognized for well thought out strategy in high altitude climbing expeditions, as well as high-quality service throughout. Because we have two decades of experience in the planning and coordination of mountaineering expeditions, our reputation is excellent. We strive to make each expedition the best possible experience for our climbers and focus on our 3 primary goals of success in reaching the summit, returning safely, and having fun!
Our guides are some of the best and most experienced in the industry, having a strong grasp of technical climbing, expedition, and high altitude experience, along with strong interpersonal skills. Our teams are small and equipped with the best support available to ensure the highest chance of success. We are renowned for our comfortable base camps, high-quality food, first-rate communications, and medical support services, all of which are overseen by a professional member of our team.
Most of our climbers have either climbed with us before, been referred by a friend who has climbed with us, or met one of our teams while attempting another peak and decided to join us for their next expedition. We work hard to facilitate safe, successful, and enjoyable expeditions for all of our climbers. Our track record and past climber testimonials prove we are not only experts in our field, but we also love what we do!